Chapter 50, part 1: Rebelling against Mystery Babylon
(This blog chapter is drawn from a lecture I presented to a live audience in May of 2014.) We are continuing our study in the series to which I have given the title: Mystery Babylon and the Stone Kingdom.
This will be lecture number 50. Turn to the book of Jeremiah, chapter 29, and put a marker there. If you are new to my teaching, I can only give you a short word of what we are doing here in Jeremiah.
It is this: For the past three lectures we have been examining the Scriptures for guidance on how we are to live while under Babylonian Captivity.
The book of Jeremiah, probably more than any other place in the Bible, gives us that guidance. In my last lecture I expounded chapter 28 of Jeremiah. I cannot take the time here, though, to provide any further review to new listeners of what we have been teaching for the 49 lectures prior to this one.
Suffice it say that regular listeners have by now come to have a reasonably good understanding of what the two title entities are all about. In other words, by this point in our studies, regular listeners/readers can explain (1) what the Stone Kingdom is and (2) what Mystery Babylon is.
Prior to this study even some of us were in ignorance of what those two entities are all about. As I continue to meet people who attest that they are Christians, I almost never meet anyone who can give even one coherent sentence to tell me what the Stone Kingdom is or what Mystery Babylon is.
So now we know. But why is it important that we study these several chapters of the book of Jeremiah? Well, studying Jeremiah follows as a logical extension of understanding the Stone Kingdom and Mystery Babylon. Think of it this way.
Were the ancient Israelites of the southern kingdom of Judah in Babylonian Captivity? Yes.
Did Jeremiah have the true word of the Lord for them on how they ought to conduct themselves in regard to this captivity? Yes.
If you did not already know it prior to this series, then I think we have clearly shown in this series that we in America today live under captivity to the entity the Bible calls Mystery Babylon.
In the last lecture I quoted 1 Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 11, which tells us that the things that happened to the children of Israel in times of old are written in the Scriptures for us as ensamples (KJV), meaning they are types and shadows of what we might encounter in our day.
Therefore, even if we were so-called “gentile” Christians, the New Testament tells us that the Old Testament can be looked to for guidance in our circumstances today.
But when you come to understand that those of us who are descended from the Anglo-Saxon, Keltic, Scandinavian, Germanic and kindred peoples of Europe are in fact the literal descendants of the ancient children of Israel, including the so-called ten lost tribes of Israel, I say that when you have been given to see that truth, then the events that happened to Israel in the Old Testament become all the more important and meaningful to us today.
So, are we latter-day Israel? Yes, America is the land of regathered Israel which was prophesied in 2 Samuel 7:10.
Are the Old Testament stories for types and shadows? Yes. They are for our learning and guidance.
So then if these stories in the book of Jeremiah show us how we are to live under a Mystery Babylonian Captivity, do we have people in America today who are reacting contrary to God’s commands through Jeremiah? Yes, we do.
Let me hasten to add that I am not holier-than-thou;... never have been... and so I don’t ever want anybody to put me on any kind of pedestal. Exalt the Lord Jesus Christ only, not me!
You see, I acted contrary to God’s command in this very situation of how we should live in Babylon. I have discussed that failing at some length already earlier in this series, but at that point in the series, we were not ready to bring in these chapters of Jeremiah.
So let us proceed now with Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 1. The title of this lecture is Rebelling against Mystery Babylon.
KJV Jeremiah 29:1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;
2 (After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;)
3 By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,
Alright, we can get confused with all the parenthetical phrases in those first several verses, and I will not take the time at the moment to clarify for you who is who, etc., because I want to reach a certain point in this lecture and if I have time, I can come back and fill in some details. So essentially, if I paraphrase verses one to three for purposes of today’s study, I would say:
“Here’s what Jeremiah wrote to the captives in Babylon”—period. Now—and I shall repeat this assertion in many ways—I am suggesting to you that this, what Jeremiah wrote to them, applies to us, latter-day Israel, who are in captivity to Mystery Babylon.
4 Thus saith the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;
Someone might immediately stop me and say that this does not apply because obviously we are still here in America. That we have not been carried away to Babylon.
By the way, before I answer that, allow me to teach on a point of rhetorical principles here. When I just said that a critic might immediately stop me after verse 4 and say thus and such, I am creating what is called a “straw man.”
I suspect that although many of my listeners have heard of that term, “straw man,” that not many could define it or explain it. I am going to do both because this will serve you well as being one of the tools in your bag of critical thinking tools.
This is my own definition. And yes, I looked it up online and I am fully aware that almost all “approved” definitions say it is a “fallacy.” I agree with most of the definitions that I took the time to read. They are correct—as far as they go.
However, they are wrong by omission. They omit the positive and common-sense way that this rhetorical tool can be a teaching aid.
My definition: A straw man is a rhetorical device whereby a speaker creates a hypothetical opponent or critic and puts words in the mouth of the critic—the straw man—and then proceeds to tear down, tear apart, demolish or destroy the idea set forth by the hypothetical opponent—the straw man.
Obviously, it gets its name from the fact that anyone can tear apart a man made of straw. Whether it has any literary allusion to the straw man in the Wizard of Oz, or if the term preceded the Wizard of Oz is immaterial.
Here is the important thing to remember. Just because someone creates a straw man does not mean that there is anything wrong or improper in doing so. You see, almost always today, when we hear someone (especially politicians and pundits) criticizing someone, and they say, “well, he was just creating a straw man.”
Whether true or not, the impression often left with TV viewers or website readers is that whoever created the straw man automatically has an illegitimate argument and they can be dismissed from the conversation or debate about an issue because they are wrong.
And why are they deemed to be wrong? Because they had to resort to creating a straw man. Whereas the fact is that a straw man is a legitimate rhetorical device and per se, or by itself, it is neutral.
It can be used—and it is frequently used this way—as a means of deceiving an audience, of creating a false opposition, or of creating a meaningless diversion from the real issue.
That is when recognizing a straw man argument will serve you especially well. If you can see that the speaker is attempting to deceive you by means of creating a straw man, you are better equipped to rebut him or to ignore him and focus on the real issue.
But on the other hand, just as it can be used for evil, so also a straw man can be used for good. It is not my intent to deceive anyone by creating a straw man argument, but my purpose is to illustrate and thereby to teach you something.
I do not expect that there would actually be manywho would stretch for that particular criticism to say that we have notbeen literally carried away to Babylon and therefore my corollary is false, that this advice applies to us today.
But I created that hypothetical opponent to cover a potential objection to my statement that this applies to us today. So, knowing that all of you now understand what a straw man is and how it can be used for good or evil, I will now deconstruct my straw man.
Obviously, we in the United States and Canada have not been literally carried away to the city of Babylon, as were our forefathers of circa 600 B.C. The ancient city of Babylon, despite the plans of Saddam Hussein to rebuild it, remains pretty much a heap of ruins over there in Iraq.
What our straw man critic fails to apprehend, to grab hold of, and to understand, is that when the types and shadows of the Old Testament are fulfilled at some time in the New Testament—and we are still in New Testament times, are we not? —
That those fulfillments almost always come about in a figurative, metaphorical or allegorical way. And those terms—figurative, metaphorical and allegorical—do not necessarily mean that there is nothing material or physical in the fulfillment.
There is frequently, and I daresay, almost always, a physical, real-world component to the fulfillment.
And so, specifically, for us to apply that to this verse 4 of Jeremiah, chapter 29, I would ask you to place a bookmark here in Jeremiah, and turn over to the book of Micah, chapter 4.
I cannot now remember where, but in one of the earlier lectures in this series I have expounded much more on this whole passage, and at that time, I began in verse one. But today we are beginning in verse 8.
Micah 4:8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
(To be continued.)